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F1 2022

F1 drivers voice opinions on what needs to be done in racism row

Following the use of racial slurs by Nelson Piquet and F2 driver Juri Vips in recent weeks, several Formula 1 drivers have been reflecting on whether more actions are needed in such situations.

Persconference Silverstone
To news overview © XPB Images

Several F1 drivers have given their views on whether actions are needed rather than words in the wake of racial slurs being used by Nelson Piquet and Formula 2 driver Juri Vips.

Vips' contract as part of the Red Bull junior team was terminated with immediate effect after he made the alleged remark during an online game.

However, the Estonian driver will continue to race in Formula 2, with Hitech Grand Prix issuing a statement explaining that they felt Vips should have a chance to "redeem himself".

This decision was met with surprise by F2 itself, who said in a statement of their own that they found it "surprising".

The incident comes in the same week that former F1 driver Piquet was widely condemned by many in the Formula 1 world for using a racial slur in reference to Lewis Hamilton.

Piquet has since issued a statement claiming that he had not intended any racial motivation behind the Brazilian-Portuguese term.

Vettel: It's time to speak up

Sebastian Vettel was amongst those to give his take on the topic, and the four-time World Champion hopes to see continued action being taken.

"You can always do more, you can never do enough," Vettel told media, including RacingNews365.com, ahead of the British Grand Prix.

"I think we will be happy to do more and see more happening. On the other hand, it would be nice if [we had] gotten rid of the problem a long time ago, [to] prevent people to [say] these type of comments.

"I think the action is our reactions to it, our behaviour towards it, and the examples we're setting, so [to try] to do something to mobilise people and to educate."

Vettel believes that everybody has a responsibility to call out such language and behaviour.

"I think what really matters is that everybody – us on the grid, everybody in this room – every day and every situation that we are in, we act the way we believe and we think is correct," the Aston Martin driver added.

"That means if we see any sort of abuse, like Lewis had to go through recently, we respond to it.

"But also, if you step into a train and you see something happening in front of you, it's not time to just think, 'That's wrong'. It's time to speak up and make it clear that it's wrong.

"It does take balls to speak up. It does take courage, but we shouldn't be afraid of these situations anymore, because I think we have more allies than we think.

"In that situation, in the train or bus or anywhere in public, doesn't matter, could be outside here in the paddock, then it's up to us to have that courage and to address it straightaway."

Others support Vettel's view

Sergio Perez is in agreement with Vettel's stance on the subject, adding: "I think, as a sport, we certainly can do more. It will never be enough to try and prevent these things from happening.

"I think we can all learn from it, because everyone in this room one day can make a mistake and say things you don't want to say, but we can all learn from it and make sure that we give the right example to the younger generations, to the older generation, and be seen as an example for the rest of the of the world."

Mick Schumacher also voiced his hope that change can happen.

"As Seb says, it takes balls to speak up, and I think that if you are that one person who does, I think you will have a lot more followers than some would believe," the Haas driver commented.

"We as drivers, we don't only support Lewis, but we supported [those] all over the world, that those kind of languages are not acceptable in any way and form.

"Hopefully we'll make change, and we'll have an easier time sorting those people out."

Fernando Alonso believes it is important that the drivers continue to show their support for Hamilton.

"There is no room for these type of comments," the Spaniard added.

"The reaction from the whole community was quite big. If it's needed to take action, or no action, I think we will support whatever the FIA or FIM is doing.

"The most important thing for us drivers also is to show the support to Lewis and we stand with him.

"It is difficult to know which kind of action is needed, but definitely the reaction from everyone was, I think, much better – and probably not enough – but much better than what there has been ever in the sport, so this is clearly a direction that we need to keep going in."

			© Mercedes
	© Mercedes

Norris questions where line is drawn over mistakes

Lando Norris agrees with his fellow drivers, but has also questioned whether there is a difference between somebody intentionally using such language and somebody making a mistake.

"I think there is a difference between someone making a mistake and having used just a wrong language and a wrong word, versus someone who's purposely trying to do it to discriminate and have it in the wrong meaning," the McLaren driver stated.

"Any racist language or slurs are never accepted at all. Words do make a big difference, and the fact of how big something like this has become over the last few days [shows that].

"But I don't think you can ask us what a deserved punishment is for someone that says something like that. If it's a genuine mistake, it's hard to know what that kind of punishment is and what's deserved and what's not.

"People make mistakes in life, and careers I don't think should just be ended because of something like that. I think you should be able to get forgiven, and get opportunities at other times and so on.

"But it's tough where that kind of line is drawn at times."

Norris is confident that Formula 1 is acting to address these issues.

"I don't think we're not doing anything. I think we are doing quite a bit, as a sport, as a community," he continued.

"It's always hard to do certain actions. If I asked you, 'What single thing can we just go out and do, on top of driving, on top of doing everything else that we do?' It's not an easy thing.

"We do a lot, we speak up about it. We say these things, we're talking about it now. I think already things like this have a good impact on everything, so we'll continue to do that and have the best impact we can."

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